The Possibilities and Challenges of Building a Participatory Church

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I love the word participation. It’s stem means “taking part” or to “partner.” The Quaker meeting of which I am the ‘released minister,’ Camas Friends, strives to be a participatory church. A partnering church. A church that welcomes the contributions, leadership, insights, resources, personalities and concerns of those who are in the meeting.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we live in a participatory culture. And the church would do well to learn from it. What was once reflective of the one-directional movement of consumer culture, there is much more interplay between producer and consumer today. Continue reading

The Moleskine of calendars @NeuYear (Review and 40% Discount)

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I am a big fan of Moleskine – and Moleskine-like – notebooks. High-quality “analog” ways of note-taking, planning and sketching are where it is at for me. So you can imagine my delight when I learned about Jesse Philips NeuYear Calendars. After receiving mine for review I can say it truly is as she said “the moleskine of calendars.”

I received this beautiful planning calendar a couple weeks back and am loving it. It’s on high-quality heavy paper, the colors are lovely and the front of the calendar has all of the days running horizontal, and the back is laid-out vertically. So you have options! Finally, the fact that it has no gaps between the months and your whole year can be seen at once makes ministry planning (or any other kind of planning for that matter) much easier.

Check out the image gallery: Continue reading

A New "Convergent" Mapping Project hits the Web

Martin Kelley isn’t the only one really excited about the new Quakermaps.com project from Micah Bales and Jon Watts. While there are other quaker maps out there this is by far the coolest (IMO) because it is fully DIY, looks great, and is simple to use. As Martin writes over at his blog Quaker Ranter:

Two people working a series of long days inputting information and embedding it on WordPress have created the coolest Meeting directory going. There’s no six-figure grants from Quaker foundations, no certified programmers, no series of organizing consultations. No Salesforce account, Drupal installations, Vertical Response signups. No high paid consultants yakking in whatever consultant-speak is trendy this year.

While neither Micah nor Jon have named this a “convergent project” per se, it’s the thought that counts. Martin writes: Continue reading

Organizing Ministry in DevonThink Pro

[This is a tutorial on software I use for writing and organization.] When I started pastoring I created a DEVONthink database for all things ministry oriented ((See my other posts on DTP here and here). I personally use a handful of databases regularly to help me keep things organized: academics, publishing, home, blogging, and dissertation (for an alternative approach to this see Tony Stewards’ helpful video). Well, after 6 months my ministry database is growing quickly enough that I’ve had to rethink some of how I organize it. Currently, this is my system (though I’m open for more suggestions):DTP

And here are some of the folders expanded:

DTP 2

My admin folder contains things like elder’s minutes, expenses, membership, my minister’s manual I am compiling, a journal, etc. The missional folder is essentially my projects folder, everything that relates to life in and outside the meeting but that doesn’t pertain to sermons, worship services, etc. I also have a sermons folder, a services folder, and a workshop/retreat folder. (I have to admit I am tempted to change my structure to admin, ethics, doctrine, and witness following James McClendon’s three strands. Ethics would include peace and social concerns type stuff. Doctrine would include membership, manuals, and sermons. And community would include services, retreats, and other things like that. Witness would be all the cultural and missional projects the meeting is involved in.)

What I am most interested in at the moment is organizing my sermons folder. I had been doing everything by month, but realized that it would make it difficult to maintain that kind of folder structure the longer I preach. So I asked my twitter friends what they have found helpful. I didn’t get a lot of responses but I found these helpful:

rhetter

@cwdaniels, I organized all mine by books. And then usually under topics in that book

ego093

@cwdaniels Re: organizing sermons – Folders named with main scripture passage. You can always sort by date using Finder.

dannyeason

@cwdaniels I use a Pulse smartpen and Evernote. Upload notes from the smartpen and copy to evernote according to series. How bout you?

find_ch

RT @tonysteward @cwdaniels how do U organize UR sermons? // “2009-11-23 Dying to Self”; Apple Spotlight lets me search content if needed

Using DEVONthink to organize your Sermons

The beauty of DEVONthink is that it’s really easy to manage a lot of information and a variety of files types. I use the universal inbox and bookmarklet to pull in images, quotes, documents, pdfs and other information I find on the web (or type of myself in a word processor). These ideas go into either the inbox to be filed later or my folder “Bag o’ tricks.” This folder is for inspiration, examples, parables, and other things that may (or may) not get tied into a sermon or put to use somewhere else.

I’ve got a sermon ideas folder to help with series and other possible messages I am putting together in the future (my goal is to have a basic framework of themes for a years work of sermons together), all that future oriented planning goes into this folder. Finally, I decided to scrap the date model I was previously using due to @ego093 recommendation and just use the “date modified” button if I need to sort dates (you can do this in search mode as well). So the way I am organizing my sermons goes first and foremost by book of the Bible, unless it is in a series then I organize it there first. I can then drop it in by topic if it fits nicely into a potential broad-based biblical theme. The strength of DTP is that it can “replicate” files, so you can select the files from one folder and add them to another without actually duplicating that file (i.e. making your database file size larger). Once your folders are somewhat populated DTP’s artificial intelligence will also help to auto-classify your files suggesting what folders they should go to. I spent about 20 min. today and cleared out my inbox with 70+ files using this feature and it made it much easier to move through and organize everything I had recently collected in there.

Another strength of DTP is that it has a very useful search, can scan in documents and make the text searchable, and the data in your databases are searchable via spotlight as well. Thus, this system has worked very well for me and has enabled me to not pile up too much unnecessary paperwork in my filing cabinet.

If you’re a pastor, a student, a writer, etc. what’s worked for you in keeping all your ideas, examples, stories, and other notes easily manageable (whether you have DTP or not)?


Lectio Divina and Acts 2:41-47

This past Sunday we finished up our discussions around Acts 2. For worship, we had a more meditative tempo. The host for Sunday’s worship led the congregation in a simple prayer, shortly after one of the women in the congregation shared about her growing concern for child trafficking in the world, but especially in the Portland/Vancouver area.  I found her discussion to be deeply moving.

We did a few Taize songs and then, after our petitions and thanksgivings, we did Lectio. Here is the intro I gave, followed by the actual flow of the service so you can use it if you would like:

Letio is a way to pray the scriptures. It is letting the Inward Christ speak to us through his inspired and inspiring word. It also gives us space to respond to that word, to allow the word to speak through us. Then as we go you go from worship you “Take a word with you.” The hope is that whatever word you are given you can hang onto it and allow it to shape your life during the week. Continue reading

Unless a Grain of Wheat Falls: The Church in 25 years

Scott McClellan emailed me a couple weeks back and asked me to imagine what The church might be like in 25 years and write it in 150-300 words: It’s for an upcoming article for Collide Magazine (a magazine largely dealing with church and new media, an emphasis you will hear in my thoughts). So in a (very) playful, imaginative way I sat down and initially hand-wrote my response out. What I have below is actually more like 600 words, the second part “In 25 Years?” is actually the portion for the magazine, but I included the first part because it’s some background.

Unless a Grain of Wheat Falls

A recent article by the Michael Spencer, also known as the Internet Monk, made its way around the Internet recently titled ominously as “The coming evangelical collapse.”  I received a link to it on the pastor’s list-serve for our denomination, and you can imagine the (justifiable) responses that followed. In the article Spencer basically suggested for Christianity in American everything was going hell and a hand basket: “Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I’m convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.”

That things are in decline in America shouldn’t be shocking to us, or even cause for fear, Jesus said, “For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.” The church are the people of the light, those of us who stand for the peace, love and justice of God’s kingdom will continually be reviled. But what we often forget is that the world will hate us because of this revolutionary Jesus-centered imagination and that this is the more normative state of the church than the cozy role of chaplain its had in Christendom.

This seed falling to the ground and dying need not be cause for us to lock the doors, pull the shades and close up shop. We are reminded that this seed, after its death, will give birth to new life: “…I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” In John 12:24-25 we are shown that the church is born with a sort of auto-deconstruct mode, as John Caputo puts it. The Church is only the signifier of the kingdom, always subject to the movements and call of God’s Holy Spirit. There are times it will, even needs to, fall to the ground in order for rebirth.

This is very much the insight Quaker Everett Cattell had in 1966:

Perhaps the call is now before us for a new seeking: a seeking to find where God’s Spirit is actually at work in today’s world and then a giving of ourselves to work with Him – whether within or without the framework of Friends. The future of Friends may be like the grain of wheat, which must fall to the ground and die. Perhaps this would be the way to a new harvest (1966.).

Thoughts on The Church In 25 Years?

My sense about the future is that the church, whatever is left of it in 25 years, will be built around a kind of nebulous, decentralized participation in God’s mission. I imagine there will be a lot less full-time CEO pastors and more people who see themselves as co-cultivators of kingdom imaginations. People who band together in a world where there is little money, time or space for full-time ministry to embody this call.

At the heart of what we might call “mission communities” won’t be buildings, and budgets but high amounts of inter-connectivity, utilizing and disseminating the church’s wisdom and critique through whatever devices and networks are available. Being tied-down to physical space will be seen less as an asset and more as a disadvantage. I think these people will use whatever space is available to them, and while being committed to particular (local) areas, they won’t be fixed to one location.

Building on this sense of participating within these mobile ecclesial groups will be a strong emphasis on communal creativity, rather than the individualistic focus of the do-it-YOURSELF, they will be focused on a do-it-OURSELVES mentality. In 25 years the church will not count on social services, setup within Christendom, to do its work for it any longer. The church will have to embody God’s mission, creativity, justice, non-violence and hospitality as a community of people committed to being disciples of Jesus.

Because these Christians will be less separated from the world it will be important to build communities and practices of resistance: people who read Scripture together to be reminded and shaped as people of “The Way” while learning how to survive in empire, who share their food, their belongings, and who reject the speed and consumption of hyper-capitalism. They will be non-conformist while living within and seeking to transform the world.

Finally, while this gathered diasporic people will focus on their particular local concerns they will also join with other “mission communities” for collective fronts on important and timely issues of their days. They will disband and regroup as needs arise. Thus even denominations will work more like social networks, cultivating disciples, artists, theologians, leaders and imaginations for survival in a world in need of the Gospel.

A Much Needed Re-Organizing of Work (Visually)

Yesterday I was feeling really stressed about the work I wasn’t getting done. This was in large part because L decided she wasn’t going to take her usual 1.5 hour nap. I use the time she naps to clear out my email, grade papers, or work on writing projects. While I was trying to get her back to sleep, and fighting off a slight panic attack because of the mound of work on my plate at the moment, I had a very basic idea and moment of clarity. I thought, “what do I need to get done today?” Not in terms of what actual “to-do’s” I needed to check off, something that always leads to a feeling over being overwhelmed, but rather, what types of things to I need to get done? So I created a basic mind map to help me organize what I’m working on visually (Mindnode).

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Generally my four areas of work include email, research, writing and reading. I realized I start feeling overwhelmed when I let one of these areas overrun the others. Often this is email. The problem for me is that if I get to the end of the day and all I did was answer emails and work on writing I left a lot of research and reading unattended, and I it feels like my day was wasted. So yesterday, I decided to limit the amount of time I spend on each area everyday. That way I actually do a little bit of everything, or at least most things on a daily basis.

I decided to spend no more than an hour on emails for the day. When that limit was hit, I turned it off. And would only check back periodically to make sure nothing really important came through. This freed me up to get to the other areas. In the afternoon, when I am done watching L and go to the library to get some work done, I focused on doing an hour of reading, and hour of research and an hour and a half of writing. By the time I was done for the evening I felt like I had really cut through my list of things to do.

The Techie Part

Speaking to-do’s, I’ve set up these four tags in my to-do list organizer (Things) so that when I’m in that mode, I can pull up what I’m working on for that area.

Using Things For Mac

DevonThink, my file manager, note-taker, etc., the other program I use regularly,is geared to working in these areas with particular names.

DevonThink Pro Now you don’t have to have these programs to organize, I’m just showing how I’ve rearranged stuff according to my areas of work. What really helped me was to visualize what I’m working on first, limit the amount of time I spend on anyone area, and set up the tools I use regularly to reflect this way of working.

Hopefully this will help one of you. Feel free to ask questions or make your own suggestions below.